There is probably nowhere else in the country where you can walk through a residential estate on a Saturday morning, in full ceremonial robes and with magical symbols painted on your forehead, without anyone batting an eye. It could only be Glastonbury. After centuries of being at the heart of the land’s tales of myth, legend and magic, they are used to stranger sights than that.
For once, it wasn’t me but our hostess who strode forth in flowing robes of crimson and purple. Alienora was taking part in a play as part of the celebrations… not that she and her theatrical friends were the only one in robes and costumes…. the town was awash with colour and excitement. Mine as much as any, for we were to meet our American friends and, as we see them only once a year at best, I felt like a child at Christmas…with hugs and greetings the gifts.
The day was young, so together we walked to the tiny chapel of St Margaret, tucked away off Magdalene St. It is a beautiful and peaceful place and one we always visit, sitting to meditate within its ancient calm. A walled garden encloses the chapel and almshouses. Founded a thousand years ago, the current building dates back to 1444.
The almshouses still stand and one has been restored to show how it could have looked many years ago. Just a single celled room with a wooden platform for sleeping… simple, but well appointed for the ‘ten poor men’ who were housed there. It was to be the only quiet moment of the day…
There was music in the Abbey grounds, and all through the town there were Green Men, damsels, dragons and just about everything else you can imagine from the town’s history and the mythical story of Avalon.
When the rain began, we must have had the best seat in town. The windows of Morgana’s office, our base for the proceedings, look directly over the Market Cross… and the windows are designed to be completely removed.
We had an excellent vantage point when the freshly cut maypole was carried through the streets. The tree had been prepared, according to tradition, and the wood carved with runes and symbols… a ar cry from the synthetic ‘barbers shop’ maypoles beloved of the Victorians. We watched as it was carried, with song and laughter, up the High Street to its destination on the Tor.
We watched too as the procession began with the drums. There would be time to talk later… time to catch up a little, share a meal, and just share time and presence together… but for now there were dragons, red and white like the twin streams that flow from beneath the sacred hill.